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Details & Cataloguing

Bauhaus_Defining a Century

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Marianne Brandt
UNIQUE AND IMPORTANT ELECTRIC KETTLE
impressed OMEGA / 220/240 Volt VDE 400 Watt
chased and pressed nickel plated brass, turned and stained wood
14.7 by 24 by 13.1 cm.   5 3/4  by 9 1/2  by 5 1/8  in.
circa 1928
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Provenance

Dr. Albert Krause (gifted by the artist)
Private Collection, Germany
Private Collection, Cologne
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1990

Exhibited

Paris, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, L'esprit du Bauhaus, October 2016 - February 2017
Ludwigshafen, Willhelm-Hack-Museum, Die Neue Wirklichkeit: Abstraktion als Weltentwurf, October 1994 - January 1995, p. 344, illustrated

Literature

Walter Gropius and László Moholy-Nagy, Eds., Bauhausbücher: Neue Arbeiten der Bauhauswerkstätten, Vol. 7, Munich 1925, p. 46 for the model MT49 with similar lid handle

Catalogue Note

Marianne Brandt entered the Bauhaus in 1924 at the age of 31, already well-equipped with an instinctive knowledge of form and line having studied sculpture and painting at the Grand Ducal Saxon School of Visual Arts in Weimar from 1911 to 1917. Discontented with the confines of the gender bias that encouraged female students to study textile design, within her first year at the Bauhaus school in 1924, Brandt completed the six-month foundation course under the tutelage of László Moholy-Nagy, head of the esteemed Metallwerkstatt. Moholy-Nagy's introductory course compelled students to confront the issues of form and use of materials.  In Brandt, Moholy-Nagy saw potential in her functional and modern design approach.  He became an influential figure for Brandt and in taking her under his wing, enabled her to gain entry to the metal workshop, thus becoming the first woman ever to do so.  The transition was not smooth as Brandt later recalled. "At first, I was not accepted with pleasure- there was no place for a woman in a metal workshop, they felt.  They admitted this to me later on and meanwhile expressed their displeasure by giving me all sorts of dull, dreary work.  How many little hemispheres did I most patiently hammer out of brittle new silver, thinking that was the way it had to be and all beginnings are hard.  Later things settled down, and we got along well together" (Marianne Brandt, cited in: Jonathan Hill, Ed., Architecture – the Subject is Matter, London 2001, p. 176). It was here that Brandt executed some of her most realised designs, including the iconic MT 49 tea infuser (Sotheby’s, New York, 14 December, 2007, lot 56). Her unparalleled abilities to combine form and function did not go unnoticed, eventually leading her to hold the title of Deputy Director of the workshop from 1928-29.

The present lot allows us an intimate glimpse into the private life of one of the greatest female designers of the last century, and clearly displays her ability to elevate and execute the Bauhaus ideals of modernity in all aspects of her life. Beginning with an industrial Wasserkocher manufactured by Omega, Marianne made subtle but impactful modifications. The overtly ornate wooden handle on the body of the kettle was removed and replaced with a thin, smooth cylinder, and the spout was carefully refined, removing all excessive detail. The original lid and its associated handle were also replaced with a thinner, sleeker form, the handle echoing the example found on the variant MT49 tea infuser Brandt executed in 1924. Thoroughly fit for purpose both functionally and now aesthetically, Marianne retained this kettle for her personal use. It can be said that this reworking of an existing design foretells the time she spent at the metal factory Ruppelwerk GmbH in Gotha where Brandt held the position of Creative Director from 1930-33. During her time at the firm, she did away with the older traditional forms from the firm’s existing product line and replaced them with sleek, modern, useful objects (lots 31 and 32) which echoed her time at the Bauhaus.

From 1951 to 1954, Brandt was a member of the faculty of the Berlin Weissensee Art Academy, where she worked alongside Mart Stam, the architect and one of the earliest innovators of the tubular chair. Here, Stam introduced a ‘Seminar for Industrial Design’ and appointed Brandt’s good friend Albert Krause to the faculty. Throughout her entire career, Marianne Brandt was guided by Wilhelm Wagenfeld’s decree that ‘Form and function always have to be designed clearly, one being the result of the other.’

Bauhaus_Defining a Century

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London